1967 Lincoln Continental Convertible Sedan
The Beauty's in the Details
By BROOKS T. BRIERLEY
(Photo by O.G. Wilson III)
WHEN THE LINCOLN CONTINENTAL was revived in 1961 with lines and a body style suggestive of prewar classics, it was the first production convertible sedan by an American luxury manufacturer in a long time.
Said to be derived from a Ford Thunder- bird coupe design, the large prototype was adapted to a four-door Lincoln model. Adding a convertible sedan version made it especially interesting. A recession limited Lincoln sales to a modest increase of 25,000 cars in 1961 (10 percent were convertible sedans), but there was a dramatic increase in market share. Styling was reworked for 1966 and 1967, with the wheelbase stretched from 123 inches to 126 inches. Horsepower went up to 340 from 320. The car gained some notoriety when President Lyndon Johnson was reported speeding in one on his way to church.
The Continental is full of power assists, some surprising. Opening the rear door automatically lowers the rear window to ensure the overlapping fabric top is not disturbed. Vent windows are powered, as are headrests in front.
There is no trunk in the Continental's big tail, but there is storage for the top and its power mechanism. Push a button on the dash and the rear lid opens toward the back, revealing considerable machinery adapted from the Ford Skyliner retractable hardtop. A metal plate, folding flush with the body, covers the top when it is down. Putting the top down looks like an incredibly complex procedure. It's impressive to watch.
This Continental drives much like many newer American luxury cars. Once past the hefty front door, it is user-friendly-making the driver immediately comfortable. The big V8 is subtle. The size of the car must make parallel parking a challenge-something not even considered during this drive. There are great details in the cabin to enjoy: The steering wheel is stylishly thin, the directional signal is a long, elegant alumi-num stalk. The rectangular speedometer fascinates with a band half white and half black, with a red-orange diagonal strip in the middle. As speed increases, the white part of the strip extends to the right, red-orange indicating the exact speed. The seats feel just right, with a very handsome shape. The original, deep-red pleated leather uphol-- stery has taken on an impressive patina.
At a list price of $6,449, this convertible sedan was the most expensive American car of its time. Extras, some of which included power vent windows ($71) and air conditioning ($471), brought the price to $7,922.
South Florida owner O.G. Wilson III likes the Continental's classic look. He found the car in Hemmings' classifieds in 1999. The seller, who owned 19 of the cars, was in North Carolina. Wilson got on a plane, looked the Lincoln over-the original paint, interior and top were in good condition-and brought it home. The original window sticker and build record came with the car, which had been delivered to Redwood Lincoln Mercury in San Francisco.
Wilson uses the Continental, driving to work, going out to dinner and sometimes for longer trips. At 65 mph it gets 12 mpg, and the car uses premium fuel, but, Wilson says, it "drives like a dream," so that compensates for the H2-like fuel mileage.
This Continental is practical to own. Parts are easy to get-a combination of new old stock (old parts that had not been bought), original car parts and new parts built from original machinery licensed from Lincoln. The Lincoln and Continental Owners Club (lcoc.org) offers advice on ownership.
1967 was the last year for the Continen-tal convertible sedan. Its complex manufacturing requirements, plus the increasing safety issues of the time, led to a new coupe model. Today Lincoln show cars are reviving many of the lines of these four-door Continentals. Classic design, it seems, is in demand in this millennium, too.